Illegal Immigration Backlash Worries, Divides Latinos
October 28, 2010 by jairo.valencia
The national political backlash against illegal immigration has created new divisions among Latinos and heightened their concerns about discrimination against members of their ethnic group–including those who were born in the United States or who immigrated legally.
About four-in-five of the nation’s estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants are of Hispanic origin. A new national survey finds that Latinos are divided over what to do with these immigrants. A small majority says unauthorized immigrants should pay a fine but not be deported, while a small minority says they should be deported and a larger minority says they should not be punished. Hispanics are also divided about the impact of illegal immigration on Hispanics already living in the U.S. Some 29% say the impact has been positive, down from 50% who said the same in 2007.
Today, more than six-in-ten (61%) Latinos say that discrimination against Hispanics is a “major problem,” up from 54% who said that in 2007. Asked to state the most important factor leading to discrimination, a plurality of 36% now cites immigration status, up from a minority of 23% who said the same in 2007. Back then, a plurality of respondents–46%–identified language skills as the biggest cause of discrimination against Hispanics.
Despite rising concerns about discrimination against Latinos, the new survey finds no increase over the past year in the share of Latinos who report that they or someone they know have been targets of discrimination. And the survey finds a decrease in the share of Latinos who say they have been stopped by the authorities and asked about their immigration status.
While the survey finds differences among Latinos on several questions related to illegal immigration, it also finds many points of broad agreement.
- Fully 86% of Latinos support providing a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants if they pass background checks, pay a fine and have jobs.
- On birthright citizenship, nearly eight-in-ten (78%) say the Constitution should be left as is.
- When it comes to who should enforce the nation’s immigration laws, more than three-quarters (77%) of Latinos say it should be the exclusive responsibility of federal authorities.
- The vast majority of Latinos–79%–disapprove of the first-of-its-kind Arizona law enacted this year that gives police broad powers to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons whom they suspect may be in this country illegally.
These and many other findings emerge from a national survey of 1,375 Latino adults conducted by landline and cellular telephone, in English and Spanish, from August 17 through September 19, 2010 by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
The report, “Illegal Immigration Backlash Worries, Divides Latinos,” authored by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center, Rich Morin, Senior Editor, Pew Research Center, and Paul Taylor, Director, Pew Hispanic Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center’s website,www.pewhispanic.org.